In the Offing

The Guardian’s Technology column has a few words on the appar­ent reluct­ance of the pub­lic to embrace e-books. They cite this par­al­lel with the nas­cent digit­al music industry.

The real reas­on that the music industry came around to the idea of down­loads wasn’t because they had a start­ling insight into the future, or even because Apple forced the issue by build­ing a clev­er eco­sys­tem around the iPod (it didn’t launch the iTunes store until 2003). It was because cus­tom­ers were choos­ing to pir­ate instead.

I’m not sure I buy this argu­ment. For my part, I was sold on the idea of music on my com­puter (it happened to be a PC in my stu­dent digs) just because it was con­veni­ent. E-books may or may not be a tar­get for pir­ates. I rather think, though, that audiobooks are much the riper for the pick­ing. (Cf. This recent talk by Stephen Fry in which he evan­gel­ises audiobooks.)

Carry on, m’hearties.

Handsomely now.

Why aren’t ebooks tak­ing off? Not enough pir­ates | Technology |

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “In the Offing”

  1. The Guardian fails to take into con­sid­er­a­tion that music is exper­i­enced in a phys­ic­ally dif­fer­ent way to how we exper­i­ence lit­er­at­ure. If you are tak­ing in some­thing visu­ally, with tact­ile ele­ments (hold­ing the book or scrolling a webpage) as you do when you are read­ing, then things like mise en page and the book as object become much more import­ant. While album art­work and own­ing a phys­ic­al object aren’t irrel­ev­ant, because of the nature of audio, they aren’t as integ­ral to the music listen­ing exper­i­ence as the phys­ic­al book.

    I think you’re right about audiobooks, much more likely both for digit­al dis­tri­bu­tion and pir­at­ing.

  2. I’ve heard that point made, Katherine, and I do agree with it to an extent, but I remem­ber musi­cos get­ting quite hung up on the fact that CDs would nev­er be pop­u­lar as a music deliv­ery sys­tem because they lacked the phys­ic­al­ity of the old vinyl discs with their cov­ers.

    My feel­ing is that the phys­ic­al­ity of books is import­ant to me; but, then, I’ve grown up read­ing books in dead tree format.

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